Ah, the joys of Spring!
Too many race reports start with talk about the weather – and this will be another, for the wind bestrode this event as it owned Lake Burley Griffin today and all activity thereon. Some swimmers became seasick and several were forced to withdraw when choppy waves became unnavigable and support paddlers themselves became swimmers after being upended in the swell. The advantage of a tailwind was largely lost through the extra distance covered vertically as well as horizontally in the effort to maintain any sense of direction. Efforts to hoist the inflatable finish arch were abandoned as the height of folly.
The closest tussle in the lake today was between eventual winner of the Solo Female race in 2:32:13, Emily Kempson from runner-up Georgy Falster’s 2:33:35. Emily never led by more than 30 seconds for the first 8km, with Georgy having the advantage through the final transition at Commonwealth Place before Emily turned up the effort on the final leg to bring home the win. Samantha Doust completed the podium placings with 2:37:23. Nicolee Martin was the standout in the Solo Female 50-59, winning in 3:03:24 from a virtual dead-heat for 2nd placing between Liz Crowhurst (3:43:02) and Dee Greenwood (3:43:03).
Nicholas Grinter has always done well at the Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim, though there has usually been one or more superstars of the sport ahead of him. Today was Nicholas’ day, leading from the outset to record a fine win in 2:22:13 withstanding a strong challenge from 2nd placed Michael Pranckl in 2:22:48. Pierre Lord came in 3rd with an excellent 2:24:01; though he decided against his original plan to swim the return leg back to the start in the face of the monstrous headwind and considerable peril to paddlers that would have entailed.
Stuart McNeill led home the Males 50-59 with 2:24:17 in a gutsy swim, ahead of Ant Schwager (2:29:55) and and Mark Knackstedt (2:37:06). Jon Schol took the award for the Males 50-59 wearing a wetsuit in his debut swim at this distance in 2:54:26.
Greg Gourley is in a class of his own in the Male 60-69 category, and though he elected to wear a wetsuit today, Greg emerged from the churning water in a fleeting 2:33:07 looking like he had just swum a few warm-up laps of the local pool.
Katie Binstock was unchallenged in the Solo Females wearing a wetsuit, taking her division in 2:45:24. Of the Solo Males wearing a wetsuit, Nicolas Campos was fastest in a sleek 2:30:32, from Brendan Cook’s 2:35:35 and Paul Jeffery in 2:46:58. Inge Close won the Solo Female 60-69 with a wetsuit in a very impressive 2:43:35, only seconds ahead of her wetsuit-wearing younger competitors in the Female 50-59, won by Sue Lyon in 2:43:57.
The fastest combination of the morning was the mixed team of “JT Multisport” (James Thorp, Joe Pascall & Grace Hoitink) who made it from one end of the lake to the other in a mere 2:02:50. The famed Goulburn pairing of “Rod and Reel” (Andrew Dawes & Rod Smith) were next fastest, taking out the All-Male Team All-Over 50 division in 2:17:30. “Zig and zag” was the most aptly named team of the day, with Janelle Ahern and Melanie Wellenberg alternating legs to bring home 1st place trophies in the All-Female Team with a combined 2:33:11. “Old Guys Rule” (Terry Eveston & Scott Kristiansen – who were indeed beaten by the older guys!) meanwhile won the All-Male Team in 3:07:53.
Once we figured out who was who in the elder ladies’ teams divisions, “Vikings Vintage 61” (Jeanette Droop & Leisa Cass) took out the All-Female Team All Over 50 division in 3:14:43; while Team “SASSY” (Helen Rubin & Karina Horton) were victorious in the All-Female Team All Over 60 with 3:37:09.
Our special thanks today to the support paddlers from Canberra Canoe Club – and to all the personal padder-helpers who cheerfully or foolishly braved the breakers – along with wholehearted assistance from the crews from the YMCA Sailing Club and medical support from Sports Medicine Australia.